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‘The Sun Comes Out Again’

Hunger and Health Co Client Finds Solace at Food Pantry 

Becoming what she described as good at adapting to situations, Dalyce said maybe she became too good at adapting.  


Overcoming childhood trauma and being a single mother, Dalyce said she’s gotten used to having to adjust and be independent. 

“I was a survivor, and I did it without help, and now I need help just to survive. I keep reinventing and pulling myself up; it’s hard to keep my head above water,” Dalyce said. “It’s hard to get to where you’re accepting help.” 


Dalyce and HHC staff member Emma pick out fruit together for Dalyce's box in the Fresh Market.

In January 2023 that’s exactly what Dalyce did. She found her way to the Hunger and Health Coalition and started receiving food services. While she tries her best to keep a positive mindset, she said that it was staff at the Hunger and Health Coalition who became more tuned in to when she wasn’t feeling herself and offered her emotional support. 


“You get more than food here,” Dalyce said. “I’ve made some friends; I’ve gotten hugs from other patrons and volunteers. It’s made the sun shine on cloudy days.” 


Born in 1959, Dalyce grew up as the youngest of three children in what she described as an upper middle-class upbringing in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. As a child, she enjoyed reading, crafting, and writing poems. She recalled riding her bike all over town and teaching herself how to play the piano. 


However, she also recalls in early childhood being afraid of her mother, as her mother struggled with alcohol use and would become violent. Her mother became sober for a brief time in her life, and Dalyce said she was fearful she would be the reason her mother would start drinking again.  


By the time Dalyce entered high school, her two siblings had since moved out of the house. She said her father had started to act as if the “nest was empty,” and convinced her mom to it would be OK to begin drinking again. Upset that her mom re-started a drinking habit, Dalyce found ways to try to cope. She briefly tried drugs as a distraction, but later decided those outlets were not for her. Wanting to be away from her parents, Dalyce would find ways to not be at home. 


Upon graduating high school, Dalyce moved in with her sister in Richmond, Virginia. She planned on getting herself into college but didn’t really know her to chart her own way through the planning to get her education started. Convinced to move back home by her parents under the guise of paying for her education, she entered Montclair State University in New Jersey. However, she was unable to complete her education due to her parents reneging on their agreement to fund her schooling. 


At age 21, Dalyce was working in a savings and loan bank in Irvington, New Jersey, when the bank underwent a robbery. Her 36-year-old manager was shot and killed during the encounter; Dalyce was a key witness during the trial afterward. Due to the stress from the incident and the trial, Dalyce developed severe anxiety and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  


Seeking an escape of sorts after the robbery in addition to wanting space from her parents, Dalyce developed wanderlust and the thrill of moving to new places — having now moved approximately 47 times in her life. Her son was born in Florida; her daughter was later born in New Jersey. Over the years she has worked various jobs including at garden centers, as a professional Christmas tree decorator, car dealerships, investment banking, and substitute teaching. She has lived in places like Vermont, Massachusetts, and Montana before moving to her current home in Mountain City, Tennessee in 2020. 


While living in New Jersey in 2014, Dalyce experienced a significant fall that would trigger multiple unexpected surgeries over several years including back, hip, and shoulder surgeries. With the mounting bills from her medical ailments and the added cost of having to buy another person out of the house they bought together in Tennessee, Dalyce found herself struggling with her health and her finances. 


It was Dalyce’s orthopedic doctor in Boone — Dr. Steven Anderson of AppOrtho — who first gave her information about services at the Hunger and Health Coalition. Dalyce had started losing weight and was becoming physically weaker because of the pain from surgeries. She said Anderson told her about the Hunger and Health Coalition and she decided to give it a try. She had never visited a food pantry before. 


“My health and money were running out. Everything was declining at the same time. There was no choice,” Dalyce said. “It takes an awful lot of desperation to admit that you need help let alone to actively go seek it. There’s a cost to your self-esteem that you can no longer provide for yourself and be the independent person you were a few years ago or maybe just a month ago.” 


When deciding to try out a food pantry for the first time, Dalyce said she wrestled with feelings of failure. However, she said that that the feelings of failure someone may feel may not necessarily be their own, but circumstances that have just happened to them.  


Dalyce starting receiving services at HHC in January 2023.

Dalyce said when talking with her sister about going to a food pantry, her sister voiced concerns about what people may think if she dressed a certain way or if people saw her Lincoln vehicle – which she bought used. She said her sister made her wonder if it would “ruin her chances” of receiving services if she “got dolled up” like she likes to do to look nice. All the while people wouldn’t know that her SNAP and Social Security benefits had both decreased and she was living in poverty. 


While she was worried she may be judged, she said she came to learn that food insecurity can happen to anyone at any time.  


"We’re not supposed to be judging other people; I like to believe the good in other people,” Dalyce said. 


Each week Dalyce makes the 40-minute drive to the Hunger and Health Coalition to get food. She said the drive to the food pantry gives her something to look forward to, and that HHC offers healthier options than the resources near her home.

  

Dalyce added that accepting help from agencies like the Hunger and Health Coalition can restore your faith in yourself and other people.  


“It takes a lot of courage and strength to face the difficulties and accept them,” Dalyce said. “There’s time in everyone’s life where everyone needs a hand. It can help pull you up or keep you from drowning. There’s no shame. I’m worth someone else helping me.” 


Despite what Dalyce has overcome throughout her life, she tries to keep a positive outlook and remains grateful for what she has. Wanting to give back in some way, Dalyce said she hopes others who are currently or who are thinking of receiving services from the Hunger and Health Coalition read her story and feel more comfortable accepting help.  


“The people that have clouds come into their life, they need to know that the sun comes out again,” Dalyce said. “You have to allow yourself the privilege of letting someone part the clouds for you.” 


For more information about the Hunger and Health Coalition, visit www.hungerandhealthcoalition.com. To sign up for food services, give our staff a call at (828) 262-1628. To reach out pharmacy staff, call (828) 264-5212. 

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Dalyce's experience highlights the importance of community support and emotional assistance in addition to food services. Finding solace and friendship at the Coalition, she emphasizes the significance of human connection during difficult times.

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